Kansans scored a huge victory for abortion rights in the United States on Tuesday night when they voted to continue protecting abortion in the state constitution.
The race was called by a host of American groups like NBC News, the New York Times and Decision Desk HQ.
The decision will be seen as a huge loss for the anti-abortion movement and a major victory for abortion rights advocates across America, who will see the outcome as a beacon of popular opinion.
Kansas — a deeply conservative and generally reliably Republican state — is the first U.S. state to put abortion rights to a vote since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike down constitutional protections for abortion. abortion at the end of June.
The state will remain a abortion shelter in the midwest, as one of the few states in the region where it remains legal to perform the procedure. Many other states have taken steps to make abortion largely illegal since June.
Joe Biden released a statement welcoming the result. “This vote clearly shows what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health decisions,” the US president said.
Kansas State Senator Dinah Sikes, a Democrat, cried as the vote took place and turned to her friends and colleagues, showing them the goosebumps on her arm.
“It’s just amazing. It’s breathtaking that women’s voices have been heard and we care about women’s health,’ she told the Guardian, after admitting she had thought the vote would be close. “But we were close in many rural areas and that really made a difference – I’m so grateful,” she said.
The “No” campaign – which protected the right to abortion – was well ahead in the referendum with 62% of the majority vote ballots counted. This means millions of lost dollars for the Catholic Church which has contributed more than $3 million trying to stamp out abortion rights in Kansas, according to campaign finance records.
Kansans turned out to vote in large numbers on Tuesday, in a referendum organized by the Kansas Republican legislature that has been criticized for being misleading, full of misinformation and voter suppression tactics.
After failing to secure a more directly named referendum, “Kansas No Constitutional Right to Abortion”, on the 2020 ballot, the Republicans changed tack, naming this amendment “Value Them Both”.
The vote was scheduled for August, when voter turnout is historically low, especially among independents and Democrats, and the registration on the ballot has been criticized for its lack of clarity.
“The ballot mentions a state constitutional right to abortion funding in Kansas, but that funding was never really on the table,” said Mary Ziegler, an American abortion law expert at the University of California, Davis at the Guardian. Monday.
Kansans for Life, a leading proponent of a “yes” vote, told church worshipers on July 27 that removing abortion protections in Kansas would prevent late-term abortions, lack of consent parental and taxpayer funding for abortion, despite none of these being the law in Kansas. Abortions in Kansas are limited to 22 weeks in cases of life-threatening or severely compromised physical complications.
It was a tense and hard-fought campaign that saw churches vandalized and street signs stolen, in a state where abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered by anti-abortion activists in 2009.
But on Tuesday evening, scenes of jubilation erupted during a vigil for the victorious No campaign in Kansas City. “Were free!” shouted Mafutari Oneal, 56, who manned the bar after the vote was called and a rush for drink orders.
“I don’t want any government telling me what to do. I am so happy,” she said.
In a speech shortly after the victory, Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, said the victory came against all odds.
“We knew it was against us from the moment we started, but we didn’t despair — we did it, and those numbers speak for themselves,” Sweet said.
“We knocked on tens of thousands of doors and received hundreds of thousands of phone calls… We countered millions of dollars worth of misinformation,” she said. “We will not tolerate extreme abortion bans in our state.”
Ashley All, the spokeswoman for KCF, who led the ‘No’ campaign alongside Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, told the Guardian that the key to voter turnout was not seeing abortion as a partisan issue in Kansas.
“We demonstrated the roots of the Free State of Kansas,” she said. “It will be interesting for other states to look at this and see that this is not a partisan issue. Everyone from Republicans to unaffiliated voters to diehard libertarians came out and said, ‘No, we don’t want the government involved in what we do with our bodies,’ she said. declared.